Text:  Fundamentals of Physics I:  Laboratory Manual

Students are expected to attend the laboratory section for which they are registered.

Ten (10) experiments are scheduled.  All 10 experiments must be completed to pass the course.  If you miss even one lab, you will fail the entire course (including the lecture/recitation portion) regardless of how well you are doing.


To ensure efficient use of lab time, it is essential for students to study the lab manual before class. In many cases it will then be possible to complete the lab report during the lab period.

Prelab exercises, when called for, must be turned in at the beginning of the lab period. Your TA will grade, initial and return them to you during the period. The prelabs should be included in your lab reports – reports without prelabs will be incomplete!

Before the first meeting of your lab, please do the following:

  1. read and familiarize yourself with the introductory material in the lab manual and
  2. read and prepare the prelab for the first lab, Experiment I.

At the start of the lab, the TA will notify you which parts of the procedure will be done and what constitutes a lab report. This may differ from what is described in the manual. Students are expected to spend the entire two-hour period in the lab. You should work on your write-up if you finish early.

Data sheets must be initialed by the TA before the end of the period.

Lab Reports:

Lab Reports:

  • must contain your name and the name of your partner,
  • must include data sheet(s) initialed by your TA,
  • must include your prelab or quiz initialed by your TA, and
  • must be your own written report (you cannot simply copy your partner’s report).

Lab reports will be absolutely “bare bones”, often just the data, relevant equations, plots and enough prose to make your report intelligible.  Long discussions are to be avoided.  Do not reproduce large sections of the lab manual in your lab report! Reports should be neat but not necessarily gorgeous or “professional looking”. 

Where possible, lab reports are to be turned in at the end of the lab period. In general, the absolute due date for lab reports will be the lab period following the one in which the experiment was done – i.e., one week. After this date, your lab report will be marked “completed” but will receive no points unless prior arrangements were made with your TA or the lab instructor. Your TA will inform you each week what the due date will be.

Lab reports should be submitted to the TA during lab or to the locked box outside Room 3112, but not to the bins outside the TA offices. It is the your responsibility to be sure your TA receives your lab report!


Each lab is worth up to 25 points including the prelab, which is worth 5 points if done correctly at the beginning of the lab period. No points will be earned for prelabs done during the lab period. Thus, those who come to lab without their prelabs done, can earn at most 20 points for that lab.  In cases where there is no prelab, there will be a quiz to determine if you read and studied the lab.  The quiz will be worth 5 points and consist of two parts:

  1. What is the purpose of the lab?  (2 pts)
  2. Describe one procedure you will do in this lab.  (3 pts)

The quiz will last two or three minutes and will be given at the beginning of the class.  There will be no make-up quizzes!

Labs will be graded on a “task” basis, with satisfactory completion of the task getting full credit and subtractions occurring due to failure to do the task or doing it substantially incorrectly.  The emphasis is on completing the important elements and not fine-scale distinctions.

TAs will grade and return lab reports as quickly as possible. The target time for returning graded labs is 2 weeks after the lab was performed. Students should keep their graded lab reports until they receive a final course grade.

Make-Up Weeks:  If you must miss a scheduled lab for any reason, you may perform that lab during one of the make-up weeks. You must inform your TA when you intend to make up the missed lab. Note: the first make-up session, prior to Spring Break, will be for Experiments 1-4 & 7 while the second make-up session, prior to Finals, will be for Experiments 5, 6 & 8-10. In general, students can make up a lab during any of the regularly scheduled laboratory sessions during these make-up weeks; you do not have to go to your regular lab session during the make-up sessions. The one exception is if an entire section must make up a lab because Campus was closed due to snow or other emergency. In this case, you will be expected to make up the lab at your regular time with your regular TA during one of the make-up weeks. You will be informed via the Announcement Page on the web or by your TA which week. Reports for your make-up labs must be submitted to your TA within one week for grading. Prelabs must also be done and initialed by the TA at the beginning of the lab for make-up labs. Make-up sessions will be two hours. All TAs are expected to staff their sections during the make-up weeks. TAs are free to leave after 1 hour if no one shows to make-up a lab during that section.